Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Dems Show Support for Mental Health and Developmental Education
The symbolism was irresistible.
On the one hand, our Republican governor, desperate to deliver a balanced budget in the face of a $8 billion deficit, expresses the need to cut funding for Family Resource Centers at elementary schools in Connecticut, and to close Riverview Hospital, the only Connecticut State Hospital which treats children and teens with severe mental health issues.
On the other hand, Democratic legislators anxious to pass their own version of a budget which replaces draconian cuts with new taxes on millionaires, coming to the rescue of the children and families who use Family Resource Centers and the families whose children suffer from debilitating mental health issues.
On Wednesday, Democratic legislators, including Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, and State Representatives Joe Serra and Matt Lesser met with doctors, staff and administrators of Riverview Hospital, then caravaned across town to Farm Hill Elementary School and addressed a roomful of parents, kids, teachers, Family Resource Center staff and school administrators.
The rallies were designed to show Democratic support for these two programs and institutions, both conveniently represented in Middletown.
At Farm Hill, Matt Lesser introduced his colleagues.
"The governor has proposed cutting the Family Resource Centers," Lesser said. "And we think it's a terrible mistake."
"I come from a family of educators," Joe Serra added. "So I know the value of starting education early."
Family Resource Center advocates and participants explained how the centers act as a transitional program for families and children, especially for those individuals who might not otherwise develop a mutually-supportive relationship with schools.
After the meeting Lesser explained that valuable programs like these should not be on the chopping block, even though the legislator and the governor are locked in a protracted, and difficult set of budget negotiations.
"At the end of the day, we'll have to raise taxes," Lesser admitted. "But I think it's unconscionable that the governor asked us to close the Family Resource Centers. If you say we'll have to raise taxes for Connecticut residents who make more than a million dollars to keep the Family Resource Centers open, then that's how it will have to be. We've made our own set of cuts, and have gotten $70 million in concessions from state unions. But some cuts just don't work."